Did you know that our bodies have an internal master clock? It runs on a 24-hour cycle and it’s called our circadian clock, which is the timekeeper for our circadian rhythms. Our rhythms are the up-and-down flow of our hormones depending on whether its day or night. These hormones guide us to have energy during the day and relax us to sleep at night. If our circadian rhythms are out-of-whack, our sleep-wake cycles are disrupted, which puts our health at risk.
A recent study out of the University of Edinburgh published in the journal Nature, shows that magnesium levels in humans’ (and other organisms’) cells rise and fall with a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. The amount of magnesium in the cells directly related to how closely a person followed their sleep cycle and how and when they burned energy. This is a fascinating discovery for those of us interested in metabolism and a more effective conversion process from turning food onto fuel—and also for those of us who need a good night’s sleep!
Magnesium levels affected the circadian clock in positive ways. For one, cells were able to process energy with increased efficiency. And alternately, cells abided by a natural sleep cycle. Both day and night, cellular function of sleep-wake cycles improved from higher magnesium levels. This doesn’t mean everyone ingesting more magnesium will awake at 6am daily and fall asleep at 10pm. It does, however, imply that whenever you wake up, you’ll feel energetic, and by the time your day is done, you will feel comfortably tired. Each person has his/her own internal circadian clock, which is what differentiates those identified as early birds, or conversely, night owls.
The National Sleep Foundation reported that about 15% of American adults say they always have trouble sleeping and that up to 40% claim they have occasional insomnia. Melatonin is a commonly used natural supplement to aid in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Some studies, however, cite that melatonin causes drowsiness and prepares the body for sleep mode, but it doesn’t necessarily induce a full night’s sleep.
It appears magnesium may soon be recommended as our natural go-to mineral for metabolic and/or sleep irregularities. Currently, the Natural Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 320 mg of magnesium daily for women over 30. Over-the-counter supplements are available, but the most beneficial form of magnesium comes from fresh foods. Some of these include: almonds, cashews, legumes, broccoli, kale, spinach, black beans, soybeans, whole-wheat cereals, and fish.
Before pumping up on the magnesium, check with your doctor. Certain medications can create an adverse physical reaction when combined with magnesium supplements. The findings of this new study remind us that we require good sleep for optimum health. Nighttime hormones generate healing in our body, just as daytime ones give us the energy to be productive. Eating well can help us count more years to our lives instead of counting more sheep.